Blog Description

This is a blog for the family and friends of Collin Park. He will be serving a two year mission in the Sierra Leone Freetown Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he left on January 24, 2013. While Collin is on his mission his Mom will be posting pictures and letters as she gets them, the content will be straight from Collin (unless otherwise noted) - spelling and punctuation will be corrected of course! Commentary and clarification may be added by his Mom as needed.
UPDATE: Collin's mission was split in half! The Sierra Leone Mission included the country of Liberia when Collin first left. As of July 1, 2013, the mission was split along the border and the new mission created: the Liberia, Monrovia Mission. Collin will never see the country of Sierra Leone. He has been in Monrovia Liberia since he left the MTC in Ghana.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Because of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Liberia and Sierra Leone Missions were evacuated on August 4, 2014 and missionaries were reassigned to different missions. Collin was reassigned to the Salt Lake City Central Mission.

Monday, April 29, 2013

No email from Collin today but I did get this picture from the mission presiden'ts wife.  I think he looks great!

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013
ow da bodie?

(FYI:  Every 6 weeks the missionaries get rearranged within the mission, this is known as a transfer.  Sometimes they may stay in the same location for more than one transfer, but they usually only transfer to a new location on transfer day – might take a day or two to get everyone moved depending on transportation…   This also means that you might get a new missionary companion as a result of the transfer if you or your companion is transferred to a new location.  Missionaries always work in pairs, but often there is more than one set of missionaries in an apartment.) So transfer news was supposed to come last night but it didn’t. So I have no idea what’s going to happen. I heard that they are splitting my branch (a branch is a group of church members that live within a certain geographical location, when a branch gets big enough it may get split) so that means more missionaries, but as far as me, I have no idea if I am leaving or what.  We'll probably find out tonight but I do know that we are moving apartments. We are moving our stuff Friday and Saturday but we won’t sleep there until Monday night.

President Roggia is coming this weekend and I think I will be having an interview with him on Saturday, time to cut my hair!!!!   hahaha I was planning on doing that anyways.  This will be the second time I will meet with him since I got here.  He spends most of his time in Sierra Leone.

I am done with my 12 week training program!  Now I’m just the junior companion. That’s totally okay with me!

On Tuesday I went on exchange with my district leader Elder Finau (Tonga).  He is such a good missionary and I learn so much from him.  We had a good day and taught many lessons, but when we were closing for the day he said there is still a little more I need to work on.  I kind of already knew what the things were but it’s a good reminder for me. I’m still trying to be better. I’m always asking myself "what could I be doing that is better than this?" or "is this productive?" I’m always trying to use my time wisely.  I’m very blessed with the amount of time I have at the end of the day since our curfew is 7pm, I have 3 1/2 hours of down time to use.  I’m always trying to use it wisely.

Wednesday we went and saw a 13 year old girl that we baptized a couple weeks ago, Jamama. She was very sick (the weather is changing and a lot of people are starting to get sick. rainy season officially starts in May and goes till about September.  Right now it just rains about once a week).   We gave her a priesthood blessing.  I was able to pronounce the blessing.  For some reason I didn’t just say get better, I commanded her to get better, the Holy Ghost totally took over.  We continued to visit her every day.  On Friday she was mostly better.  On Saturday she went to a youth program at the church, she was totally better, completely healthy.  The priesthood power is real, being able to have that sacred power is a gift that I have taken for granted.  It wasn’t until I came on my mission that I really learned what it can do by experiencing it first hand.  The priesthood power is real and powerful. I am so grateful to have the privilege of having this power.

We had a district meeting about planning lessons.  We as missionaries sometimes go through the motions.  We were instructed to have a written lesson plan for each lesson, so we take 10 minutes and have a lesson that truly applies to that person.  We started doing this faithfully, even though planning takes a lot longer now, I can see it paying off.  We go into lessons knowing exactly what lesson we are teaching, what scriptures we will use, and what kind of questions we will ask and what the person might ask us. Elder Finau is amazing, he is always trying to help us become better missionaries and in return, better people.

Yesterday was 3rd Sunday (in Collin’s branch that means the missionaries do a lot of the talking and teaching).  I was able to give a talk in S
acrament Meeting.  I gave a talk on faith and how we can grow it.  In Alma 32:28 it tells us how.   For example, we plant a seed in dirt, nourish it and it will grow.   With faith, plant it your heart, nourish it by praying, going to church, studying the scriptures and it will grow.  In verse 43, it says we have to be patient with our faith, it won’t all come at once, it grows over time.  A tall tree doesn’t just become a tall tree, it started as a seed and was nourished, and then it grew.  This is how faith grows.  You can also look in St Luke chapter 8 (the parable of the sower), the Book of Mormon teaches the same things as the Bible, it just uses different people and different words.  The Book of Mormon is true.

I love you all and miss you all
Thanks for the support!
The church is true and I love you!

Elder Park
The White African

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15, 2013
Hello world!

This week was a very difficult week.  Since I am new, I do a (training) program that means I will be training for 12 weeks. Every week more and more responsibility is put on me.  I just finished up week 11 of the training.  Week 11 sucks.  I was the “senior” companion for the week.  I had to pretend that Elder Skouson was a brand new missionary from the MTC.  I had to take the lead in everything. It was difficult. I learned so much this week.  learned that I need to study more and harder.  I need to be a little more bold with certain things.  Everything is good, I just need to work on certain things. This 12 week program is supposed to help missionaries train right after they are done training. This week is the last week of the transfer,  let’s see what transfer news brings me.  Elder Skouson and I are a little excited, but nervous about this news.

On Thursday, Elder Skouson and I decided to walk to a part of our area that I have never seen.  We walked about 45 minutes to Claratown, it took about 15 minutes to walk through.  We did teach one lesson to a man that was taught by missionaries in Ghana.  Haven’t seen him since.  We then decided to walk home.  An hour later we reached our apartment.  So in all, we walked all day teaching lessons, then walked 2 hours home. it was fun though.

On Friday we spent a lot of time in the apartment.  It was the anniversary of the war starting, so tensions were a little high (some want to have another war, most don’t). Our mission president told us to stay inside, so as normal 19 and 20 year old boys, we got hungry, we went and bought noodles and sauce and bread.  We made spaghetti!!!  It wasn’t as good as anything back home, but it was good to not eat rice for a day.  It was sweet!!

Saturday we had baptisms again.  I was able to baptize a husband and wife:  Richard and Victoria Nagbe.  It’s really rare to teach both the husband and wife.  We were very lucky, and we will be teaching his children this week.  Richard walked into church with the desire to be baptized, we had never met him before.  This happens often, everyone wants to be baptized, so we just shrugged it off and said we'll see you next week. ....... and we did.... with his wife... we were stunned!  We followed them to their house and taught a lesson which was really good.  I love this family.  He calls us almost every day just to say hello.  I love them!!

After the baptisms we were lucky enough to have a member want to cook a FM (free meal) for the entire zone! 24 missionaries!  It was sweet! (it also meant I didn’t cook that night!!!!)  I’m not sure what it was, but here you don’t ask what things are, you just eat it. But it also rained Saturday.  It rained and rained and rained and rained.  It rained really hard for a long time!  On the way home we had to walk through water that was up to my knees. and of course my rain boats were at home... so we just went through it.  We took a bunch of pictures there in a corn field.  It was fun. I look totally different.  I have lost weight and tanned a lot!! I I’m trying to send pictures.

To answer some questions that I keep forgetting to answer.  The krio is not coming, mainly because they don’t speak it here. they speak kalokua (can’t spell it. sound it out slowly) it's basically really bad English but it is super fun to speak. I am getter better the longer I stay. Sometimes it’s hard to understand, but it’s coming on small small.  I mentioned a while ago I got a lapa.  A lapa is just fabric that is about 6 ft by 3 ft.  The women wear it like a skirt over shorts because its hot (and super comfy).  We wear them all the time around the apartment.

Last week i mentioned about a guy outside our apartment. I then said don’t judge the Book of Mormon before you've read it.  This man was just bashing on the church and saying things that were totally wrong about the church.  Moral of the story:  don’t judge things when you don’t know much about them.

I love you all and miss you all. I pray daily for all my friends and family.  I challenge you to recognize when the lord has blessed you or helped you.  He has his finger in everything!

Elder Park
The White African

Monday, April 08, 2013

April 8, 2013

Family and Friends!

Ow yo comin on?

I hope everyone learned a lot from conference.  I will hopefully be able to read/hear it soon, not totally sure about that.  (Every 6 months we have a two day “Conference” where leaders of the church give talks and these talks are broadcast around the world, we got to watch them live.  Some parts of the world, like Liberia, don’t have access to see it live.  Collin will probably get a dvd and/or printed copies of these talks).   

For the people who are not members of the church who are reading this: read 2 Corinthians 13:1.  Based on that, we know that there must be 2 or 3 witnesses of everything.  In the Old Testament, it doesn’t mention Christ’s name.  The New Testament does however. So, going back to 2 Cor. 13:1, where is the other witness of Christ? The full name of the Book of Mormon is “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”  For me, reading that scripture, then reading the full name of the Book of Mormon, it would cause me to think, and to at least give it a shot.  People say "Don’t judge a book by its cover" so for you, don’t judge the Book of Mormon by what you think it says or based on what other people say.  If you want to know, find the missionaries, they will give you a copy, read the introduction and follow the counsel that you can find in the last 2 paragraphs of the Book of Mormon:  pray and ask God if it is true.  Find out for yourself.  This is the plea that God has for you.  Test him and see if he will answer your prayers.  We missionaries don’t force you to do anything, we invite everyone to find out for themselves, to pray and ask God if the things we said are true.  As for me, I know they are true.  I wouldn’t be over 6500 miles away from home if they were not true.

A couple weeks ago Elder Skouson and I had a fast with an investigator.  We fasted for him to be able to walk normally and to be able to use his hand properly, and that he will find a way to get married so he can be baptized (this is Agustin who I have written about before).  The other day when we were sitting with him he walked out of his house almost without any help from us.  The first time we helped him walk he needed both of us on either side helping him.  Now he is walking almost by himself.  He still needs help with balancing though.  He is coming around small small.  Also we learned that his woman’s mother wants to come but just lives far away.  To pay for the transport it would be about 40 US dollars (that could feed a family of 7 for about a month).  We continue to pray for him and his family so that they will be able to gather money so that the old ma will be able to come.  Keep him in your prayers.  Having this miracle happen in front of me shows that the power of fasting is real and that fasting truly works.  It may be hard for us because it’s so hot and we need water, but when our Father in Heaven see's that we are sacrificing something and desiring a righteous thing or reward, He will answer this prayer and fast.  Fasting truly works.

I love you all. I miss you all.  I pray for you all.

Elder Park
The White African

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

April 1 2013
Hello family and friends,

This week was an interesting week. It flew by!

On Thursday we were teaching that man I’ve been talking about who couldn’t really walk.  When we plan to meet with him it’s interesting because he has had all the lessons and he is just waiting to get married before we baptize him, so we just listen to him and talk about that.  He started talking about how he wants his family to come with him to church.  We talked about that and then out of nowhere I felt like I needed to have him read 1 Nephi 8 about Lehi's dream.  It was the Spirit totally taking over, we still need to follow up with him about that and find out if he read it and if he has questions.

Friday night, we had a “family counsel,” Elder Finau (DL) gave a challenge to us.  Since it’s so hot in the apartment, we usually have our personal and companion study wearing just shorts.  He challenged us to have that study time in our trousers.  Elder Skouson and I, without talking about it, decided to go a step farther and to have our white shirts and ties on as well.  So we did that Saturday morning,  then went to our baptisms (I'll talk later).  After we got back from that and got to our area, we only had time for one lesson because we had an interview for next week.  That lesson was one of the best lessons we've had.  We kept talking back and forth and the Spirit was putting words in my mouth when Richard would ask a question.  After, when we were walking, we talked about it and we committed to each other that we will always have a white shirt and tie on.  It was because we were exactly obedient that the lesson went so well. Richard and his wife will be baptized in two weeks. April 13th.

So back to the baptisms, I was able to baptize Mary Toe, Jacob Toe, and Sarah Toe, their father/ husband was an old man who got baptized a couple weeks ago.  It still stuns me when the people ask me to baptize them, but I am always honored to do that for them.

After the baptisms, the Relief Society (the women’s group) was having a program of some sort so we snuck into the back and watched.  I have one word to describe African programs. WOW. I've never been to a Relief Society program before, let alone an African one.  The whole time I was laughing, there was lots of dancing, and lots of clapping and laughing. There were about 8 elders there and we actually got up in front of them and danced for a couple seconds.  I’m glad we did because they gave us food, the food was so good!!!   The best I have had since zone conference when I first got here.  I have a couple short videos of it, so interesting, I am definitely in Africa.

Since it was Easter weekend, of course we had an Easter Program.  It was very last minute but it was pretty good.  All the missionaries (10) got up and sang “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” There are some hymns that can make me tear up, and that was definitely one of them.  It totally set the tone of the meeting and brought the Spirit there, it was really good.  Here in Africa, the people don’t really celebrate holidays, it’s just a day that no one goes to work, it’s just a lazy day, and they have a holiday for almost anything.  They definitely don’t celebrate like back in the States.

Overall it was a good week. we didn’t teach as many lessons as we wanted, but we taught some really good ones.  For me, I would rather have good lessons and low numbers than bad lessons and really high numbers.

I love everyone back at home and I miss everyone.

Elder Park
The White African